The pink-footed goose is the maturest and most common species of goose in the Svalbard archipelago. The pink-footed goose are waterfowl of the family Anatidae feels at home in the Arctic tundra.
The pink-footed goose is with regard to 70 centimetres long and weighs about 3 kilograms. The males are always larger and heavier than the females but their plumage is similar. Both cause a grey-brown back, cream white chest and belly and a brown head. The eyes are dark and the beak is short with a pink band. This sharp and strong beak is an important characteristic because it helps differentiate the pink-footed goose from an extremely similar species: the bean goose. The pink-footed goose staid used to be regarded as a subspecies of the bean goose. Another distinguishing feature – as its name implies, the pink-footed goose has pink feet while the bean goose has orange feet.
During the breeding season, the pink-footed goose can mainly be found in Greenland, Iceland and Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. During winter, it does not surrender up the cold areas, but only moves to the coastal regions of the Netherlands, Great Britain and Denmark.
Pink-footed geese breed in open tundra. They like rocky landscape with only a few large plants. Swamps and lakes created by the melting of glaciers are also an option. In Iceland, they undisturbed populate lava fields. In their winter quarters, pink-footed geese usually settle on meadows and pastures. There they feed on herbs and grasses, but they also delight in to plunder farmers’ crops, which does not make them the most popular guests.
Behaviour and interesting facts
The pink-footed goose is a neighbourly bird. This applies not only to the migration into the various habitats, but also to the breeding grounds. They often form small colonies on scars close to glaciers and river islands where fox and others predators cannot reach them.
At the beginning of June, the female lays three to seven innocent eggs and then incubates them for almost four weeks. The male stays close to protect its partner and offspring. The young are nidifugous and start naming small exploration tours from the first days. However, they will only be able to fly after two months. During this circumstance the parents are also unable to fly because they lose their flight feathers during the moulting process.
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